Yes, linebackers are tough. As the linebacker at the core of the Patriots’ defense, Tedy Bruschi played through pain on a regular basis during his 13-year career.
But his “grit and balls” reached gargantuan-sized status following his NFL comeback following a stroke in 2005. Just 10 days after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX, Bruschi, then 31, woke up with pain in his neck and numbness on his left side. Doctors at Mass General confirmed the stroke.
A blood clot had passed through a small hole in heart, which was surgically repaired a month later. Bruschi initially thought his NFL career was over. He first announced his intention to return in 2006 but made make his return to action on Oct. 30 – just eight months after the stroke—and notched 10 tackles in a 21-16 victory over the Bills.
Bruschi retired prior to the 2009 season and is now an ESPN analyst.